My friend Stacy McCain likes to quote the movie Animal House when he writes about the GOP candidates and especially about his preferred guy Rick Santorum. You all probably know the scene — it’s part of one of the most famous movie monologues in history.
Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! … And it ain’t over now. ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough… The tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go! …
What the f— happened to the Delta I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst. “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my a– from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this.
Stacy likes to apply that to Santorum’s social conservatism, an area he believes is sorely neglected this campaign season, but I want to use it for another purpose. See, one of the things that has rankled me and a goodly number of other conservatives is how reluctant the Republican party has been to engage the progressives over the past decade. Whether it was George Bush taking shot after shot over Iraq and his tax cut, Speaker John Boehner’s capitulation to the President’s bullying during the debt ceiling debacle, or Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s utter refusal to get rough when Harry Reid refuses once again to even consider a budget, Republicans have mastered the art of the cave-in. They give up the fight at the very threat of the sound of guns or, worse yet, they roll over for a small victory and lose the bigger fights a month or two later.
“Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh?”, Stacy asks. Well, I’ll tell you where it is. It’s in the Newt Gingrich campaign. Gingrich has taken the fight to the left over the past few months like no other Republican candidate and for that reason, he ought to have your favor.
Consider the early debates. I know there have been 16 of them, and they all tend to run together, but let me remind you of Newt’s epic beatdown of Politico’s John Harris and President Obama during the September debate at the Reagan Library. Here’s the transcript.
JOHN HARRIS: Speaker Gingrich, it sounds like we have a genuine philosophical disagreement. In Massachusetts, a mandate, almost no uninsured—in Texas, a more limited approach, about a quarter uninsured. Who’s got the better end of this argument?
NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I’m frankly not interested in your effort to get Republicans fighting each other.
(Harris laughs, audience applauds)
GINGRICH: The fact is—
HARRIS: Speaker Gingrich, we’ve got—
GINGRICH: The fact is—
HARRIS: We’ve got—
GINGRICH: No, no we don’t—
HARRIS: We’ve got a choice between the individual mandate or not. Anyway, go ahead.
GINGRICH: You’d have, you would like to puff this up into some giant thing. The fact is, every person up here understands Obamacare is a disaster. It is a disaster procedurally. It was rammed through after they lost Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts. It was written badly, it was never reconciled. It can’t be implemented. It is killing this economy.
And if this president had any concern for working Americans, he’d walk in Thursday night and ask us to repeal it because it’s a monstrosity. Every person up here agrees with that.
And let me just say– since I still have a little time left, let me just say—
GINGRICH: I for one, and I hope all of my friends up here, going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated. And all of us are committed as a team, whoever the nominee is, we are all for defeating Barack Obama.
You know what the other candidates were doing while Newt was curb-stomping the left-wing moderator and the left-wing President? They were attacking each other or whining to the moderator about how they didn’t get as many questions as they wanted.
“Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh?” How about the August debate where he slammed Fox’s Chris Wallace for the “Mickey Mouse games” when Wallace asked him about his campaign’s apparent collapse.
“I took seriously Brad’s (?) injunction to put aside the talking points and I wish you would put aside the gotcha questions…
Congress should come back Monday. They should repeal the Dodd-Frank bill. They should repeal Sarbanes-Oxley. They should repeal Obamacare. They should institute lean Six Sigma across the entire federal government — a hard idea for Washington reporters to cover, but an important idea because it is the key to American manufacturing success. I’d love to see the rest of tonight’s debate asking us about what we’d do to lead an America whose President has failed to lead instead of playing Mickey Mouse games…”
Again, the other candidates stood there while Gingrich showed the spirit and guts that we on the right, and quite frankly, all of America really want to see from a Republican presidential candidate. There was no sniveling about “equal time”. He didn’t bark like a trained seal when Wallace dangled a tasty fish in front of him. He punched back. He showed spirit and guts.
October. New Hampshire. Gingrich answered a relatively mild question about the current recession and the Occupy Whatever movement and turned it into a devastating attack against the Obama administration’s corruption.
Gingrich: “If they want to change things, the first thing to do is fire Bernanke, who is a disaster as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The second person to fire is Geithner. The fact is, in both the Bush and the Obama administrations the fix has been in. And I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be angry. But let’s be clear about who put the fix in. The fix was put in by the federal government. If you want to put people in jail, I want to second what Michele said, you ought to start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. And let’s look at the politicians who created the environment, the politicians who profited from the environment and the politicians who put this country in trouble.”
Charlie Rose, moderator: “Clearly, you’re not saying they should go to jail?”
Gingrich: “Well, in Chris Dodd’s case, go back to look at the Countryside deals. In Barney Frank’s case, go back and look at the lobbyist who was close to Freddie Mac. All I’m saying is, everybody in the media who wants to go after the business community ought to start by going after the politicians who were at the heart of the sickness which is weakening this country and ought to start with Bernanke, who still has not been exposed for the hundreds of billions of dollars.”
“I want to repeat this, Bernanke has in secret has spent hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out one group and not bailing another group. I don’t see how anybody in the news media demanding the kind of transparency of the Fed that you would demand of every other aspect of the federal government. And I think it is corrupt and wrong for one man to have that kind of secret power.”
“Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh?” What you didn’t get in that transcript, but is in the video right before the transcript starts is a brief but unequivocal defense of the Tea Party movement. Are you getting the picture here? Are you seeing the spirit and the guts?
One more. This is probably the best Gingrich debate moment. CBS’s Scott Pelley lobbed a biased gotcha question about “death warrants” against Americans living overseas and Gingrich drove it right back down his throat. Watch.
Spirit. Guts. I have other examples, including his incredible indictment of the MSM over their biased and economically-ignorant coverage of the Occupy Whatever movement and his detailed destruction of President Obama’s “bureaucratic socialism”, but I think I’ve made my point.
Stacy wants a candidate to show some spirit and guts. That’s exactly what Newt Gingrich has done, far more than any other candidate this year. He has attacked the President, the progressive left, and their handmaidens in the media without fear or pause while the other candidates spent their time whining for better coverage or attacking each other just like the left wants them to do. And what’s better, Newt has been right every single time.
“Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh?” Well, I know where it is. So, now, do you.
Category: The 2012 Horse Race